11. The Roman Project
The next iteration of Architecture Without Content is called the Roman Project. It is a research we undertake in the new Master Program (Form for the City), in which we investigate the possibility for a universal territorial architecture with a radically simple materiality.
It is no surprise we come up with this. The Roman project is in many ways a rediscovery of the European territory through the architectural project. Europe here has to be understood as a cultural and geographic entity, with an enormous cultural diversity but a fascinating cohesion. Simultaneously the Roman project is an attempt to revive a possible reading of Europe (and the world) as an Even Covered Field. The Even Covered Field presents to us simply the acceptance of the world as fully urbanized, as a gigantic interior, or more elegantly ‘buildings in cultivable soil, a collection of organs without a body (Angélil and Siress, 2008) laid down as far as geography permits it.’ If Europe has originally been the cradle in which the figure-ground relationship developed, it becomes now of utmost importance to look again into the place of its obsolescence.
Form for the City’s core investigation will be both an attempt to better ‘define’ the even covered field as to look for tools to design within. Manoeuvres that are capable to create hierarchies and points of reference are crucial to aspire to a certain order in a world increasingly hard to grasp. As such, each year a specific case outside of our continent will be analyzed and the discovered tools later tested in Europe proper.
For all this research intelligence, Roman Architecture will be our guide, as we believe it is precisely in this proto-architecture that we find the kernel of an enlarged understanding of the architecture of Hierarchies.
It is about time to revive this radical and simple idea of a proto-architecture, as it might give a valuable answer to our current and fundamental desire to build without waste, to embrace a veritable equilibrium between living, working and the world. It is now that we can develop fundamentals of sustainability, not through silly rhetoric, but through the re-development of an ancient relationship between man and territory, since any architecture should celebrate the act of building as a substantial effort produced by any society in a necessary long-term perspective.
The goal of this master program is definitely to outline a ‘project’ for Europe through the project for the Even Covered Field.
In the tradition of the projects for Berlin by O.M. Ungers, Form for the City sees the project for Europe as both a project of nostalgia and futurism. As the notion of territories has been fundamentally altered, tools are needed to both define that very territory as to organize it. The Roman Project is an attempt to reconnect to this legacy.